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Okada accord paves way for Wynn share sales

A further legal chapter in the long-running dispute between Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada, Steve Wynn and his former wife, has been closed, potentially paving the way for the sale of their holdings in Wynn Resorts.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Wynn Resorts said that Steve and Elaine Wynn presented the Judicial District Court in Clark County Nevada with a stipulation agreeing that a 2010 stockholders agreement between the parties is now invalid and not enforceable. The accord had prevented the three shareholders from selling their holdings without the others’ permission. The court approved the stipulation.

As a result, Wynn is now able to sell his shares, either through the market or in privately negotiated transactions. If he chooses to sell, “he will seek to conduct such sales in an orderly fashion and in cooperation with the company,” the filing said.

Deutsche Bank notes that Steve Wynn owns 11.4 million shares in the operator, while Elaine Wynn has 9.3 million.

Although, Steve Wynn says he has no immediate plans to sell, Deutsche Bank says the trading liquidity and investor interest in Wynn “should make for a smooth sale process.”

“Overall, we see this morning’s announcement as a net positive in that it provides greater flexibility for both parties and we believe the ability to sell shares, in the case of Mr. Wynn specifically, is beneficial for all parties involved, including Wynn Resorts,” the bank said, adding it expects the company founder to trim his position.

Okada, formerly head of Japan’s Universal Entertainment, was one of the initial investors in Wynn Resorts and Universal became one of its largest shareholders. However, Wynn seized Universal’s 20 percent stake in 2012, filing suit against the Japanese tycoon for allegedly paying bribes to the Philippine government and thus threatening Wynn’s reputation.

The seizure triggered a six-year legal battle between the companies that was settled last week with Wynn agreeing to a $2.4 billion settlement. Further, on Monday, the company dropped its claims against Okada himself.

However, according to reports citing Okada’s lawyers, the businessman was not happy with the settlements that came without his knowledge.

“This came as a complete surprise to Mr. Okada. We had no information whatsoever they were engaged in any negotiations or discussions,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal cited attorney J. Stephen Peek as telling District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez.

The flurry of legal activity to settle the spat between Wynn and Universal follows the ousting of Steve Wynn as head of the company in February following allegations of sexual misconduct.


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